Category: Agrifood

Poultry producer launches technologically advanced facility (Uganda)

Hudani Manji Holdings, an Ugandian poultry supplier, has launched a poultry farm worth US$9.8mn. The 64 acre poultry farm is situated in Semuto Nakaseke District around 107 km North West of the capital, Kampala and reportedly the biggest in East Africa. According to Hudani Manji Holdings, the poultry facility consists of a four metric tonnes feed-mill and two automated broiler houses with a capacity of 40,000 birds each. “The new Broiler farm and processing plant will be the first highly mechanised abattoir in Uganda and the biggest chicken processing facility in East Africa. The plant is highly automated which shortens production time. The poultry facility was built in response to the demand for chicken which is on the rise in Uganda especially among the growing middle class,” said Rafik Manji, managing director of Hudani Manji Holdings, “This demand has quickly outstripped supply because there is no dominant player in the Ugandan poultry sector.”

Uganda Hudani Manji Holdings is a supplier to fast food companies including Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Tasty’s Drive and Cayenne Express. –


South Africa works hard to curb livestock diseases

The South African government has delivered 356,000 doses of foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccines in its southern province districts in an attempt to curb the illness.  FMD is an infectious and, sometimes, fatal viral disease that affects cloven hoofed domestic and wild animals. The virus causes a high fever for two or three days, followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness.
Charles Maseka, southern province veterinary officer, says, “In the first phase, we carried out biannual vaccinations against foot and mouth disease in the province. For the second phase, we have received 356,000 doses, which will be used to vaccinate livestock with foot and mouth diseases in high risk zones in the region.”
The FMD high risk districts in southern province are Monze, Mazabuka, Zimba, Namwala, and Kazungula. Of the 356,000 doses Mazabuka will receive 51,000, while 70,000 doses are for Monze district. Namwala, Zimba and Kazungula will each get 180,000, 15,000 and 80,000 respectively, Maseka said.
“To boost the lucrative poultry industry, which is threatened by the newcastle disease, the government has also delivered 1.4mn doses of newcastle disease vaccines,” he added.
Newcastle disease is a contagious bird disease, which is also transmissible to humans. —

Goldtree invest in Ebola stricken country (Sierra Leone)

Goldtree, a commercial palm oil plantation and milling company based in Kailahun, Sierra Leone, is expanding its operations within the country despite the current Ebola crisis. The Ebola spread has scared off international airlines and grounded several mining operations across West Africa.
According to the agribusiness firm, they will be investing $18.3 million to increase its overall investment in the country to $42 million albeit $3.3 million is expected to be spent on meeting current expenditure and mitigating the economic impact of Ebola. The remaining $15 million will fund an expansion programme, which includes extending the company’s plantations, doubling the size of its dedicated palm oil mill and building a tank farm at a port in Sierra Leone for the export of palm oil.  “Goldtree’s investment gives a vital boost to the country’s agricultural sector, which remains the largest sector of the Sierra Leone economy,” said Dr Joseph Sam Sesay, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, who welcomed the move by Goldtree’s board. “Goldtree’s timely investment will help protect Sierra Leonean livelihoods today and kick start tomorrow’s economic recovery. It also sends a clear message to the world that Sierra Leone remains open for business,” said Sesay.
Luke Marriott, who spoke on behalf of the Goldtree board, said that the company was committed to being part of Sierra Leone’s long-term economic development. “Goldtree has made a commitment to the people of Kailahun which we believe we can best fulfil by looking beyond the country’s current difficulties to its post-Ebola potential.”
The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has led to the death of 1130 people in Sierra Leone, one of the hardest hit countries in the region. As a result, investors have been reconsidering their investments, with foreign workers fleeing the country and most of the local workers in some companies placed on compulsory leave. According to expert analysis, lost GDP in Sierra Leone could reach $439 million. –

Cote d’ Ivoire Rice production expected to rise

A new analysis on the global outlook for rice production and demand, released earlier this month by HIS, has revealed that between 2014 and 2031, Africa will expand its rice production area by almost 50% percent. HIS is an international global source of critical information.
“Africa’s rapid expansion of areas for rice production will be the fastest globally, in percentage terms. Cote d’Ivoire intends on spending $4 billion on agriculture development in order to improve crop yields and, in four years, become a rice exporter,” said Karanta Kalley, chief economist for Africa at IHS.
However, economic development, particularly in West Africa, is currently questionable. “Right now, the question on everyone’s mind is what impact of ebola will have on the economic growth of sub-Saharan Africa,” Kalley said.
IHS expects gross domestic product (GDP) growth to be lowered significantly for 2014 in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia as a result of the ongoing ebola outbreak.
The IHS confirmed GDP growth rate forecasts have been cut by between one-half and nine-tenths of previous forecasts. Sierra Leone’s economy is projected to have the highest rate of growth at 3.1% in 2014, followed by Guinea at 2%. IHS foresees only a marginal real economic growth rate of 0.8% for Liberia’s economy in 2014.

Ebola outbreak halts Sime Darby expansion (Liberia)

Malaysian palm oil firm Sime Darby has said the ebola crises will delay construction of a mill for its Liberia plantation. “Anything in addition needs to be put on hold,” said Carl Dagenhar, Sime Darby’s head of sustainability and external relations for Africa and Europe.

Dagenhar said however that normal production was continuing and that the expansion project will resume when the disease is under control.

Sime Darby has a planned investment of over $2 billion in the palm oil plantation where it has planted 10,035 hectares of oil palm and 107 hectares of rubber trees. The company in 2011 signed an agreement with the government to develop about 220,000 hectares of land for 63 years. However, it has to negotiate with local communities before planting on undeveloped areas of the concession.

Only a small part of the company’s acreage is currently in production, which means that the ebola crisis will have little effect on output. According to Reuters, a contractor for Sime Darby Plantation Liberia’s (SDPL) palm oil mill has been chosen and preparations for construction – initially due to be completed in mid-2015 – had already begun when the outbreak began. The construction is now on hold, Dagenhar explained. He said: “Of course we would like to develop more, but I think the most important thing is to survive ebola first.” He added that all 2,881 workers will continue to receive their salaries and benefits, including two 50kg bags of rice each month.

The ebola outbreak has already claimed more than 1,500 lives with over 2,000 others still infected, and continues to wreck economic havoc, in the West African country.

Sime Darby has donated one million Malaysian ringgit ($308,309) to the Liberian Red Cross and to pay for rubber gloves for health workers.


JAI signs MOU to expand rice mill (Nigeria)

Joseph Agro Industries Limited (JAI), one of Nigeria’s leading agri-processing companies, has signed a backward integration memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Anambra state government to invest an initial $150 million (N25billion) in the rehabilitation and expansion of the state’s Omor Rice Mill.
The government of Anambra State, in South-eastern Nigeria, has sought to expand its rich but largely untapped agricultural resources; it says development of the sector is one of its cardinal goals, with the aim of providing job opportunities for over 10,000 people by using an out-grower scheme.
JAI said it will produce 167,000 tons of rice from paddies in two cropping seasons, and another 15,000 hectares is under negotiation, for development into irrigated rice paddy fields. The executive director of JAI, Ken Irhiogbe, said in a statement that China Machinery Equipment Corporation (CMEC), a leading global EPC provider, has been appointed as the technical partner to support in up-scaling the mill’s current capacity of 18,000 tons to an initial 100,000 tons, and in the development of 14000 hectares of land into irrigated paddy fields and the construction of a green energy biomass power plant in Omor using rice husk as feedstock.
JAI also said it will, as part of its long-term strategic objective to ensure sustainability through technology transfer, collaborate with the Confucius Institute and Nnamdi Azikiwe University to produce Chinese-speaking Nigerian students to understudy best rice technology practice.  –

Constant usage of HQCF saves $773.2million (Nigeria)

Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said the country’s policy on the use of 20% High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) for baking bread saves the nation N127 billion ($773.2 million). The ministry’s South-South region Director, Martins Odeh, furthermore said the HQCF also has the potential to create more jobs for the youth and assist farmers build domestic wealth.
The Nigerian government has been advocating the inclusion of cassava flour in the baking of bread as a measure to break the country’s dependence on food and ingredient imports and encourage local farmers and the private sector to build the agricultural sector.
Odeh also stated that the training provided to farmers was to empower the participants on the inclusion of 20% HQCF in making bread. He urged the participants to make use of the opportunity and learn how to use the recipe. Nigeria has previously been the world’s largest producer of cassava, yet it was not leading in its consumption, he said.
In 2013, Nigeria’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development signed a N4.3 billion ($20 million) deal with the Bank of Industry (BOI) to boost the production of cassava bread in the country. The country’s Cassava Value Chain Desk Officer, Olajumoke Adewulu, said that the setting up of six high quality cassava processing plants had been approved by Nigeria’s National Assembly. Each plant will be capable of producing 40 tons of HQCF per day in each of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones.

Changing demographics drive breakfast cereal adoption across the continent

Gerald Mahinda joined Kellogg’s as MD of Sub-Saharan Africa in February to steer the company’s emerging markets strategy in what has been identified as a key long term growth area.

Feed plants of the future

Automation of plants throughout the food chain is enabling manufacturers to meet growing demands for food as human populations move from rural homesteads to urban areas.

South Africa can produce and store food for Africa

The population explosion in sub-Saharan Africa means that two billion people on the African continent will have to be fed by 2050.

Slow Food Youth Gardens promote nutrition and sustainability (Africa)

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva recently said the way to build opportunities for young Africans was by expanding Slow Food Foundation’s gardening project.

Boosting food production through dry season farming (Nigeria)

The Federal Government recently approved the release of N14 billion ($85 190 000) for dry season farming. This is in addition to N9 billion ($54 765 000 released in 2013 for the same purpose. This funding underscores the importance government attaches to dry season farming.

Potato virus identified in tobacco crop (Zimbabwe)

Tobacco Research Board (TRB) researchers in Zimbabwe have identified a virulent necrotic strain of Potato Virus Y (PVY), which has the ability to destroy up to 90% of a  tobacco crop. According to Zimbabwe’s Minister of Agriculture, mechanisation and irrigation development, Joseph Made, the virus was one of the most prevalent diseases spread by aphids, which feed on regrowths from undestroyed tobacco stalks. He said, there were some challenges that arose as a result of knowledge gaps among tobacco growers. “Amid these challenges is the issue of failure to observe tobacco cultivation legislation,” he added further explaining that most of the new entrants in the tobacco industry did not take note of legislative issues, aimed at restricting incidences and spread of insect-borne viruses of tobacco. Made concluded that “Non-adherence to the legislation related to stalk destruction, planting of seed beds and planting into the lands could all have a catastrophic effect on our vibrant tobacco industry.”-

First carbon credits for smallscale farmers (Kenya)

A project bringing together thousands of small-scale farmers in western Kenya has become the first to earn carbon credits using a new sustainable farming accounting system, according to the World Bank.

National Foods reopens maize mill – Zimbabwe

National Foods has reopened its maize (corn) mill in Mutare, Zimbabwe, which had been inactive for the past six years.

South Africa US company invests in nut market

A South African peanut business has sold 80% of its assets and a 50% equity share in its pecan business to Golden Peanut Co, a subsidiary of Illinois-based Archer Daniels Midland Co.

New strategies to combat micronutrient deficiencies

Globally, close to 900 million people continue to suffer from undernourishment despite various improvements and strides made in food security and nutrition outcomes. Dr Delia Rodriguez-Amaya, in her capacity as scientific adviser of the International Foundation for Science (based in Sweden) and representing the University of Campinas, Brazil, points out that the major stumbling block regarding food insecurity is that nutritional security, which forms a vital component of providing suitable food
in any developing country, is mostly overlooked.

“When speaking of food insecurity, most of the focus is on food production and not enough on food safety and nutritional security. When considering whether a household is food secure or not, it is classified into those with light insecurity (referring to food quality, including nutritional quality), those with moderate insecurity (referring to quantity) and those with serious insecurity (referring to hunger),” she says.
According to Rodriguez-Amaya, the increase in micronutrient deficiencies, also known as hidden hunger, and dietrelated chronic diseases, shows that this is a growing problem that needs to be dealt with. “Diet diversification has long been considered as a definitive solution to the problem. We have to acknowledge that micronutrient deficiencies still affect over 30% of the world’s population and cause a variety of other problems like impaired cognitive development, reduced learning abilities and ultimately increased morbidity and mortality.”
Combating strategies
Rodriguez-Amaya says there are a number of developing strategies for ensuring nutritional security:
1. Use of nutrient and bioactive compound contents as a criterion, along with yield and disease resistance, for the selection of varieties for agricultural production.
2. Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for food and nutrition.
3. Optimisation or development of processing technologies to provide maximum retention of nutrients and bioactive compounds and utilisation of food industries’ by-products rich in these health-promoting substances.
4. Reduction of the substantial postharvest losses.
Further strategies for combating micronutrient deficiencies include the promotion of breast feeding, supplementation of high-risk groups, food fortification, biofortification and dietary diversification.
“Dietary diversification is being promoted as a definitive solution because contrary to single nutrient interventions, a varied diet provides various micronutrients and bioactive substances. It therefore provides the possibility of addressing several deficiencies as well as preventing of chronic degenerative diseases,” she explains.
Examples of dietary diversification interventions include nutritional educational programmes in and out of schools to raise awareness of micronutrients’ importance as well as small-scale production of fish, poultry and other small animals.
Positive initiative
According to Rodriguez-Amaya, one of the initiatives which has shown much promise is the HarvestPlus breeding crops for better nutrition programme. “The programme is a leader in the global effort to end hidden hunger caused by the lack of essential  vitamins and minerals in the diet, such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron.”
As a collaborator for the initiative, she explains that HarvestPlus develops nutrient-rich seeds, which grow as well, if not better, than those that farmers currently plant. “We understand how these seeds will provide better nutrition when eaten in different ways – and we promote them widely, so farmers and consumers know that that these seeds mean a healthier future for their families, communities and country.”
Between 2007 and 2009 HarvestPlus disseminated orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) seeds to more than 24,000 households in Mozambique and Uganda. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes varieties can provide 50-100% of daily vitamin A needs. They are also said to be high yielding, virus resistant, and drought tolerant.
“The intake of OFSP among young children, older children and women increased by 66% or more in both countries when they were introduced,” says Rodriguez-Amaya. “77% of project households in Mozambique and 65% of project households in Uganda adopted OFSP, and they are doing well. So it is possible.”
Dr Delia Rodriguez-Amaya:
Harvest Plus: Tel +202-862-5600;; website:
• This article is based on Dr Rodriguez-Amaya’s presentation at the South African Association for Food Science & Technology’s Biennial International Congress and Exhibition in 2013.

How the foodbev industry can bridge the nutritional security gap in Nigeria

Ronald Olusola Olawale, a food technologist from the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology, outlines the progress made; projects implemented; and the challenges the food and beverage industry, government and scientists face in meeting the nutritional needs of Africa’s biggest population.

One-stop fabricator of affordable processing equipment

Are you an agri-processor with an end-product in mind, but unsure how to achieve it?


Village-level algae cultivation plan

The first organisation with plans to build village-level algae cultivation projects, which will be sustained almost entirely with local materials and will produce a variety of fuel and nutritional products for both local use and for sale/export, expects to make a significant contribution to reducing poverty in Africa.


Community game farming

In South Africa, as in some other African countries, commercial game farming has boomed in the last few decades, with the conversion of many commercial farms from cattle and cropping to game farming for hunting and venison harvesting.


Marama could point to more niche wild oils

An EU-backed study into the marama bean (Tylosema esculenta) has revealed potential for it to yield small quantities of high-value oil as well as nutritious food products or ingredients.

Dealing with produce surpluses

How to deal with seasonal fruit/vegetable/herb/nut surpluses is a problem throughout Africa. There is generally an abundance of produce that cannot be consumed by local communities, with excess going to waste.

Small-scale freshwater fish farming

BOOK REVIEW: This booklet, published by the Agromisa Foundation which is linked to Wageningen University in the Netherlands, gives basic information on how to set up small-scale fish farming for subsistence purposes. However it would also be useful for those looking to start commercial production in rural areas.

Need for fish feed mills

South African aquaculture expert Adrian Piers says most countries in Africa have good natural resources that will support aquaculture, but traditionally development has been in inland countries like Zambia where people customarily eat fish and the fish in rivers and lakes have been exploited to the maximum.